02/13/08 9:17 PM ET
Players react to Congressional drama
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
Detroit left-hander Kenny Rogers, a contemporary of Clemens, blasted the conspicuous hearing that is detracting from the start of Spring Training by saying, "It's probably what happens when you try to sweep it under the carpet. It just gets bigger and bigger."Comparing the scandal to the 1919 Black Sox episode, Rogers elaborated, "It's similar. You fixed the results of the game. Anybody who says that stuff doesn't benefit you greatly, it's obvious [it does]. You're able to do things better than you ever were before. And to me, that's like fixing the results." "Here we are talking about a new baseball season and the start of Spring Training," said Cubs manager Lou Piniella, "and we're rehashing things that happened in the past. Hopefully it goes away and we can concentrate on the season." Torre made a slight allusion to his trust possibly having been taken advantage of. "Part of what I do is honor privacy," said the Dodgers manager. "I never saw anything that was a red flag to me. I'm not a doctor. There are a lot more things available to players now from when I played. I admire guys who can play every day. I chalk it up to a guy's resolve to be out there for his teammates. Is that naïve? It certainly might be." Many felt for a game about which they are passionate becoming the only true victim of the episode. "I don't feel bad for Clemens himself," said Nationals lefty Ray King. "I feel bad for the integrity of baseball. Right now, Congress really has him (and McNamee) in a sweat box. Somebody is lying about this situation. We need to figure out who it is. "As a baseball community, we need to rid ourselves of anybody involved in steroids or anything dealing with HGH. The turnstiles were at record numbers. We need to talk more about how we need to get more fans into the game, more kids into the baseball program and rid the people of steroids." Echoing that sentiment, the Tigers' Justin Verlander said, "I think baseball's doing a great job of moving on. If you look at the crowds and the attendance, I think people understand baseball's doing the right thing." "I think the focus should be on how to repair the damage that's been done, and how we move forward," said new Yankees skipper Joe Girardi, who wouldn't discuss the hearing's specifics even though, as a catcher, he had been behind the plate for both Clemens and Pettitte. "For me to judge a player, I don't think it's fair, and I'm not going to do that. "I might have my opinions that I will keep to myself, but I'm not going to judge. I think this is going to be a situation that we'll continue to talk about for a long time. Hopefully the focus will get back on the field where it belongs." "They're never going to get to the bottom of it," said the Tigers' Rogers. "But I think it's essential to look it in the face figure out how we got to this. We've got to move on and hopefully learn this." For many, the highlight of the hearing titled "The Mitchell Report: The Illegal Use of Steroids in Major League Baseball, Day 2" came very early, with committee chairman Henry Waxman's opening pledge that "this is the last hearing Congress will have on baseball's past or the Mitchell Report." "I'm just happy that they said in the opening statement that it will be over after today," said Minnesota outfielder Michael Cuddyer, who along with rain-trapped teammates was glued to the TV sets in the weight room of the Twins' Lee County Sports Complex in Fort Myers, Fla. "Hopefully we don't have to have any more Congressional hearings about steroids or anything about baseball's past." Yankees GM Brian Cashman, who was precluded by staff meetings from watching the hearing, said in a general sense, "None of us is proud of what's taking place in our industry. We're all looking to find a way to ensure that what's taken place here in the last decade or so doesn't take place again." Baltimore manager Dave Trembley hoped that "In the long run, something good will come out of this. The players will be better educated and if it does one thing, it should make our players go the extra mile to cooperate a little bit better with fans." With Spring Training camps only now stirring to life -- eight teams' pitchers and catchers will hold their first formal workouts on Thursday -- viewership around clubhouse TV sets was light. Players who did have a chance to absorb at least part of the proceedings were caught up in the virtual tennis match between Clemens and McNamee. "You listen to them continue to go back and forth and you wonder if there is really ever going to be a resolution on this particular topic," said the Twins' Cuddyer. "They both maintain that they are right and I just hope that the issue with the two of them will be done with after today." "Everybody in the clubhouse wants to know the truth. Everybody's been glued to the TV all morning, just like I'm sure in every other clubhouse," said Royals right-hander Gil Meche. Added his teammate, John Bale, "I don't know what to think but I know one thing -- one of them is lying and I guess that'll end up coming out. There are a lot of conflicting statements on both sides."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.